Blue veins on your breasts can be unsightly and will almost definitely make you feel self-conscious. Although they are not uncommon, and in most cases are completely harmless, it’s necessary to understand the different reasons why they might appear.
Veins are blood vessels that are integral to the circulation of blood around your body. They lie just under the protective blanket of your skin, and generally you can’t see them. However, there are some situations where the visibility of your veins is increased, either by them being forced closer to the skin’s surface, or increasing in size. These changes are not all permanent and are caused by factors such as hormones, weight gain, age and exercise.
Causes of Blue Veins on your Breasts
As a woman, your hormones fluctuate all the time, with one notable period of fluctuation being during your menstrual cycle. During this time the changes in hormone levels can cause your breasts to swell by drawing more blood and fluid into that area through your veins and other blood vessels. This collection of fluid increases the visibility of veins in your breasts, which results in the appearance of these blue veins.
Oral contraception also affects our hormone levels. This can have the knock-on effect of enhancing the appearance of your breast veins, but it depends to a large degree on the level of hormones with the contraceptive and how your body reacts.
During pregnancy, your body needs to supply your developing fetus with blood, nutrients and oxygen. To do this job, your blood volume increases, sometimes by as much as 40%. This results in your veins becoming more prominent under the skin, particularly the breast veins where the skin is more fragile. The appearance of these veins will return to normal after your baby is born.
The visibility of the blue veins in your breasts may continue throughout breastfeeding, as the breast milk causes the breasts to enlarge and push the veins towards the surface. This visibility will ultimately lessen and return to pre-pregnancy levels as you stop breastfeeding and your milk dries up.
Vigorous exercise increases blood flow throughout the body as there is a larger need for oxygen to be distributed. Your body can’t select areas to circulate additional blood to, so the whole body will get an increased blood flow. Blood vessels dilate to allow for the additional blood, and to assist the body in cooling down. The increased flow and dilation will cause veins to bulge, and in women this is quite pronounced in the breast area.
Breast Enlargement Surgery
Blue veins are almost always a consequence of breast enlargement surgery. Large breast implants stretch the breast cavity, pushing the veins closer to the surface and enhancing their visibility. They become more noticeable if you have fair skin, or if your veins were already visible prior to the breast augmentation. Smaller implants will still have an effect on the appearance of blue veins, but less so as they don’t require as much cavity space.
Mondor’s Disease, or Superficial Thrombophlebitis, is a benign condition that is more common in women than men. It’s caused by an inflammation of a vein in the breast or chest area, most often affecting a vein on the outer side of the breast or under the nipple. It could be a result of vigorous exercise, a bra that is too tight-fitting, or a surgical procedure. You may experience some pain as a result of the inflammation, and the area may feel warm to the touch. Medical treatment is not necessary for Mondor’s as the condition will go away by itself. Pain medication, and sometimes a warm compress on the affected area, will be sufficient to ease the discomfort
In rare instances, Mondor’s can be a sign of breast cancer, so if you have any concerns it’s best to consult a doctor.
During weight gain, more fatty tissue is deposited on the breasts. This tissue pushes against the veins and causes them to become more visible.
As you get older your skin gets thinner and less elastic. It’s a natural process and unfortunately your veins will become more noticeable, even if you are perfectly healthy. Gravity is also a factor, particularly if you have heavy breasts. As the skin is loses elasticity, it will stretch and become thinner, thus enhancing the appearance of your veins. Wearing a bra with adequate support will help to reduce the effect of gravity on your breasts.
Sun damage over an extended period of time also has the effect of thinning the skin, which leads to more pronounced blue veins in your breasts.
Genetics also influences the visibility of your veins. If your mom or grandmother had visible veins then there is a good chance that you will suffer with this as well. They could show up anywhere on your body, and this may not be on your breasts, but it is a possibility.
If you have developed blue veins due to one of the above reasons, don’t panic. They won’t affect your health, but you may not be comfortable with the way that they look. Luckily they are relatively easy to cover up, either by nourishing the skin with moisturisers, or by using tanning creams to give the appearance of having a tan and thereby disguising the veins. There are also various medical treatments available that can reduce their appearance or remove them completely.
Treatment for Blue Breast Veins
Treatment should not be considered in women whose breasts are still developing. This generally applies to women younger than 18 years of age. It’s also not advisable to undergo any treatment for your blue veins if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, in the first three months after pregnancy or after stopping breastfeeding.
The cause of and extent to which you suffer with blue veins in your breasts will determine which treatment option is the best one.
Laser treatments will shrink or destroy the vein. This type of treatment includes Endovenous Laser Treatment, which uses heat from a laser to reduce the size of the vein. The procedure is minimally invasive and takes less than an hour to perform. Laser treatment has a high success rate, and doesn’t require a lengthy recovery period. Sometimes more than one session is needed. Larger veins may require another form of treatment.
This treatment is quick and painless. The medical practitioner uses a tiny needle to inject a solution called a sclerosant into the problematic vein. The solution closes off the vein without any detrimental effect to your circulatory system. Over a period of time, the treated breast vein will diminish until it’s absorbed by your body. For more severe cases, or larger veins, you may need more than one treatment.
In Foam Sclerotherapy, the sclerosant is mixed with micro air bubbles to create a foamy substance. The sclerosant rests on the surface of the bubbles and is able to come into direct contact with the vein wall. This is an effective treatment for larger veins with a diameter of up to one centimetre.
Ablation is a procedure commonly used for the treatment of abnormal veins. Radiofrequency energy in the form of heat is transmitted through a catheter into the affected vein. It heats the vein up and closes it off, without removing it. The circulatory system won’t be affected and your body will naturally reroute the blood that is normally carried through that vein. It’s a safe procedure, and like laser treatments, minimally invasive with very little recovery time needed. Radiofrequency ablation is also used to treat small cancerous areas.
It’s difficult to prevent the occurrence of blue veins on your breasts, particularly as they sometimes result from completely natural causes, like pregnancy or ageing. What we are able to do is reduce their severity, and therefore their visibility.
These semi-preventative measures include the following:
- Use a high factor sunscreen, or cover the breast area completely when out in the sun
- Wear a well-fitting bra that is not be too tight and restrictive, nor too loose. Ensure that it is sufficiently supportive when you play sports.
- Stay physically active so that your cardiovascular system and therefore your veins are healthy
- Rub moisturizer into your breasts regularly to reduce the loss of elasticity that comes with ageing
- Avoid rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Maintain a healthy diet
Veins play a very necessary role in our circulatory system, working to take deoxygenated blood back to the lungs. Like any other part of our body they need to be nurtured and looked after. The best way to keep your veins healthy is to eat well, exercise regularly and generally maintain a well-balanced lifestyle.
If you do find blue veins developing on your breasts, or becoming more visible, remember that this not an uncommon condition. However, if you are at all concerned about their appearance or worried that they may indicate a more severe condition, don’t be shy to consult a medical practitioner for advice or treatment.
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